Entrepreneur hits the right notes with app and web design company

An entrepreneur who switched from classical music to app and web development is hitting all the right notes with his Leeds company looking to top £1m turnover.

Sam Ducker, who originally came to the city to study music, set up Lucky Duck in 2017. The company now employs eight people full-time, is moving into new offices in Mabgate and has an office in London.

Lucky Duck works with some of the biggest, household-name tech companies in the world designing apps and complex websites.

Its expansion has been supported by AD:VENTURE, a programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Despite the lockdown Ducker plans to take on four new employees this year and a further five next year. Turnover is expected to double this year from £350,000 to £700,000 and top £1m by the end of next year.

Ducker says he has been entrepreneurial since he was a child; he sold sweets to his classmates at school, and has always wanted to run his own business.

But he spent several years working for companies in web and app development before studying at Leeds College of Music.

He said: “When I graduated I worked out there are literally only a handful of professional clarinet players in the country; so I went back to my plan of setting up a business.

“I was tempted by the idea of running a bar, but I had always been fascinated by the internet.

“Fourteen years ago my older brother who was an aerospace engineer said I should get into maths, physics and programming, and learn how to work with computers and technology.  So, I have him to thank.”

Lucky Duck was launched by Ducker in his bedroom and soon grew. But he admits he was not so good at the admin side of the business.

“That’s where AD:VENTURE came to my help,” he said. “They literally sat me down and helped me do all the stuff like accounts, sales and funding applications. And I had a brilliant mentor who has helped me every step of the way.”

As well as one-to-one mentoring, he has been helped with access to funding, including an AD:VENTURE grant of £2,700 that supported a digital marketing campaign and the purchase of virtual meeting kit to help the business adapt and thrive during lockdown.

Eve Roodhouse, chief officer of economic development at Leeds City Council, said: “Lucky Duck are an excellent example of how digital start-ups are contributing to the region’s economic growth.

“It’s an incredibly challenging time for all businesses, so to see a young company thriving and creating new jobs is a positive boost for everyone.

“Supporting new and growing firms is an important aspect of our wider growth strategy, and we are proud to partner with AD:VENTURE to offer much needed support to help our young firms in achieving their ambitions.”

Support available to businesses from AD:VENTURE also includes professional workshops, accelerators, grant funding, access to networks and specialist sector advice.

To qualify for AD:VENTURE support, businesses must be less than three-years-old or pre-start.

AD:VENTURE’s funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities.